Thursday, September 22, 2016

Don't Be a Hater'

My fascination with Traditionalist Catholics seems at a paramount along with Transformers, Bigfoot, and Jiu Jitsu.  They seem to fall into three categories.  Most are well-meaning in their devotions, pious and loyal to the Magisterium.  They may have certain questions or concerns, but never outside of a respectful tone, looking to the Holy Father as just that, a father.  While we owe our respect and obedience to the Pope, we must never forget that he is not infallible in all his pronouncements, but only when exercising a ministry regarding Faith and morals from the chair, ie Ex Cathedra.  The Pope cannot change a doctrine, he could deepen it, but never change it, and for that to happen(deepen), he would write an ‘Encyclical’ not an Apostolic Exhortation.  I consider myself in this line.  The other types are the extreme ‘I know better than the Pope crowd,’ and finally the complete whackadoodle crowd, either sedevacantists (waiting for a spaceship) or the ‘conclavists’(My favorite is Pope Michael).

The latest controversy has once again the extremists frothing at the mouth.  That in certain cases, some divorced and re-married may be admitted to Holy Communion.  First off, although issues are black and white, people are not.  Again, most recently, a leaked letter to the Bishops of South America was discovered, whereby the Pope ‘congratulated’ these Bishops for allowing the divorced and remarried access to the Sacraments.  What is not mentioned is the cultural circumstances surrounding this issue.  Namely, the rate of poverty, and pregnancy, steeped in a traditional setting, whereby ‘shotgun’ weddings are performed.  Whether this is an issue or not, is for the canonists to debate, us as the faithful need to remember that Jesus heads our Church, and the Holy Spirit will never leave us.  This brings us to our current debate, one between Justice and Mercy.  Essentially the two are not exclusive, despite certain ideological camps claiming so. 

Our culture ceased to be a Christian one some time ago, and again, in my opinion, I believe this is essentially what the Holy Father is trying to get at.  Our starting point is once again ‘Ground Zero.’  I believe, that to paraphrase Aquinas, the ‘act’ remains in the intentionality of the Pope.  It must be addressed however that for certain people clinging to ideological bents, there arises a danger. 

Certain members of the Faithful are troubled and confused, and instead of using this as a means to Grace, they lash out.  As traditional Catholics, we need to be careful, so as not to cause scandal but instead to draw ourselves more deeply into Christ’s mystery.  We cannot hide behind the ‘law’ and use every opportunity to embarrass people who do not share our views.  I too, wish that the Pope could be a little clearer, but I refuse to engage in a senseless and downright nasty political campaign trying to humiliate him.  We know the Catechism, Scripture and Canon Law,.. We don’t need to freak out over everything that comes out.  Instead we need to take this time to grow in Holiness.  Sadly there are people, describing themselves as Traditional, and engaging in Spiritual pornography, scouring the internet and criticizing the way the Pope ties his shoelaces.  Even when some good news comes out, they try to spin it into a critique.   Again, not just any kind of critique, but a violent hate driven propaganda spiel.  The devil is shrewd, and can easily play a game of not only spiritual narcissism, but can also sow seeds of hatred for our fellow Catholics.  The ‘left’ does not have a monopoly on God’s mercy, and I dare to say that both extremes are dangerous.   To be pastoral can mean clarity, in charity, respecting God’s justice recognizing that we are sinners while at the same time trusting in God’s mercy.

Guys, I too am Traditional, but we need to take this time to pray and get ourselves right with God.  Screaming about stuff will turn people away, instead we can ask questions in a respectful sense, articulate and intellectual way. I am not making excuses, I am trying to provide a way for us to sanctify ourselves, ultimately realizing that Jesus remains in control.

I will speak as a ‘coach.’  It is a slippery slope to criticize the Pope.  We can question, voice concerns and even write a letter, but screaming does no good. (Imagine screaming at your father?)  God is ultimately in control, He willed the Pope, and He lets the Pope govern.  Whether or not it is for our sanctification is ultimately God’s call, not ours.  Many priests and seminarians years ago criticized Popes John Paul II, and later Benedict XVI, and in not so respectful ways,.. let us not mirror this reality.  Every saint was sanctified through the virtue of ‘obediance.’  This Papacy is not a political election and we need to realize that.  When something disturbs your soul, pray about it.  Speak to your priest, go hit the gym,.. but we need to reign in the dirty laundry because this is not from God.  I know in saying these things I will alienate (again) many people who are Traditional, but as one of you, I felt the need to speak from my heart.

God bless.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Mastro Manifesto 2016

Well, I'm six months into my reflection year, and thus far one thing is certain.  I am a sinner yet I  desire to follow Truth, anchored in Love.  In doing so, and with God's Grace, I seek to follow the Universal Call to Holiness put forth by the Second Vatican Council.  I had tweeted and facebooked this week that this blog would be touchy.  Well, it is also going to be personal.  While my vocational discernment remains to follow God's Call in my life, Priesthood, I remain at His Mercy and being purified daily.

Formation is hard.  Obedience to authorities who at times seem like they don't grasp the weight of the world, or the seriousness of what is happening around us can be a huge challenge.  Still, through obedience we are forged as Saints, while authority divested from Truth ultimately becomes Tyranny.  For ourselves, (in this case myself) its important to be honest.

Here goes;

1.  I am a practicing Roman Catholic male.  I believe Her(The Church) to be the One True Church established by Jesus Christ for the Salvation of souls.  All other earthly endeavors (biotethical, social justice or otherwise) must flow from that reality.  The Church exists to make present the one Sacrifice of Christ in atonement for our sins. I believe in the fullness of the Truth as revealed in the Creed.  I believe in all the precepts of the Church, and should I not fully understand something, I will attempt to submit my intelligence and will to Holy Mother Church. 

2.  Stemming from the above point, I believe objective Truth exists and before entering into any 'Theological' training, a proper anthropology and proper metaphysics (Thomism) must be learned.  We need to relearn how the human mind 'thinks' and essentially why things are the way they are.  False philosophy contributes to false anthropology ultimately leading to false Theology.  Today's Theological landscape ranges from modernistic inspired pseudo liberalism, all the way to false emotionally driven fundamentalism. 

3.  I believe in the authority of the Magisterium.  While certain documents contain differing degrees of interpretation, I believe in is paramount to read everything within the context of the fullness of Tradition(or 'tradition.)   I promise never to break union with the Pope and Bishops in union with him.  I have read 'Laudato Si' and found it good.  I have also read 'Summorum Pontificum' and found it good.  I accept Vatican II, not the 'spirit of,'  'Commentary about, school of Bologna this,.. Vatican II is a pastoral Council, while Trent remains a doctrinal one.  Both these Councils contain or reaffirm doctrine and pastoral applications.   We must remember that doctrines are black and white issues, but people are not.  It is us who are ultimate shades of grey.  (This is made manifest in both degrees and hierarchy of Truth as well as degrees of sins.  (Gospel where Jesus encounters the Samaritain women comes to mind.)

4.  I refuse to be labeled any kind of 'ist.'  'Traditionalist' or 'progressivist,' ultimately lumps us into an ideological camp.  If I were to define myself, then I would say 'Traditional.'  I do not identify with 'hate mongers' or the extreme right, nor hippie whackadoos on the extreme left.  I love the Extraordinary Form of Mass and the Ordinary Form.  When both are celebrated properly, they can both elevate our senses to Heaven.  When both are celebrated mediocre, (An EF low Mass can seem like a 'drive-by' Eucharist, while an OF can seem like an attempt at cheesy religious entertainment) they both detract us from God and true worship.  We need to put Jesus first, and ideological banners in a secondary role.

5.  I am a man.  I was raised to be a man.  I am 'straight' (heterosexual).  I have never discriminated or been mean to a person with same sex attraction.  Sadly it is I who experienced a bullying from that crowd. I do follow the teachings of the Church on morals and if or when I fail with regards to chastity, I will make recourse to the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  I believe the same should be true for those individuals.  I can draw a distinction between 'meekness' as opposed to weakness.  My Spirituality stems from and is expressed in this reality.  (Which is ultimately why, for the time being, I am drawn to the EF Mass.)  I played sports growing up and continue to avidly train in the Martial Arts and weights.  I have no interest in opera, theatre, frappacinos or ballet.  I enjoy hunting, fishing and pick-up trucks.  I fellowship with other men who desire to follow Christ and have also sought refuge in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.

To conclude this five point manifesto, is that to a certain extent, Our Lord desires to transform our hearts, but not replace our personalities.  I continue along this journey, and will ultimately, hopefully let Jesus work through me.

Ad Maeoriam Dei Gloriam!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Discernment, Bigfoots, Aquariums and Sausage making!

The beauty of this post is that essentially the title should read in the same light as John Steinbeck's 'Of Mice and Men.'  Perhaps a little levity and an update to where I'm at in life.  My formation continues but solely on an intellectual level for the moment.  I'm still on my year of 'reflection' with every intention of becoming a priest becoming more apparent.  My stress level is diminishing and all because my prayerlife and my human formation are becoming one and integrated! 

For those of you that have followed or read me, you will know that for certain people, I would not be considered a seminarian type o'guy!  I've lived, worked and had girlfriends, even discerning marriage, but at the same time I've always had a child's curiosity and imagination.  The original name of this blog, 'Confessions of a Thirty-Something Cybertronian' was a wink to my interest in Transformers.  My ability to interact with Parishioners came from two things.  The first was a Holy Hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament, which culminated in this prayer,. 'Lord love these people through me!' The second, was to be real and authentic, and young men, especially the teenagers,.. Well they can smell bullsh%$ a mile away.  In my case I believe they knew I was a father figure to them and wouldn't judge.  My love of wrestling and Transformers, Sasquatches and whatever nonsense assured that!  Our Lord has a sense of humor, and all those things were put to good use by Him!  At the same time, what I learned from the community was triple fold!  Discerning a call to priesthood means you are there for every important moment of a person's life and what you say may impact them potentially spiritually, meaning Heaven or Hell at the point of death, theirs as well as yours!  My point is that God has given me a clear vision with regards to a capacity for coaching and forming.  It makes sense since I'm an ex-personal trainer. 

Its tough when you are not understood.  Maybe you are, but are are among those who can't get you?  My weakness is definitely pride, ego, emotional instability and narcissism.  Jiu-Jitsu is helping especially in the pride humility department!  (IT SHOULD BE MANDATORY FOR ANYONE DISCERNING A VOCATION!)  You learn to tap and tap fast, especially to the 10yrs younger than you dude, who you used to 'dominate' 10 months ago!  Working at the cemetery has always been and continues to be an incredible source of Grace.  Crawling into people's lives with one mission,.. To remind them that God loves them! 

For now, I continue my studies.  I continue with a Spiritual Director, and I continue being me.  I've signed up for a Sasquatch expedition, and am now learning how to make sausages!  I haven't begun, but rest assured that I will post them on my youtube channel and make some fun crazy recipes!  Think of Kramer and Newman from Seinfeld!  At times though, it has been tough, but I am confident that Jesus is purifying me while not robbing me of my identity.  Be serious when it is time and laugh always like a big kid!  As I write this, I will be shopping for an aquarium for my Godson,..  I will also choose his fish!!!!  Managueses, Flowerhorns and Cichlids Oh my!  Piranhas and arowanas,.. All kinds of 'fun' fish!!!!!

St Giovanni Bosco (Don Bosco),..   ora pro nobis!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Questions to be Asked?,..

A recent homily given by a young priest hit a nerve among many of the Faithful and perhaps caused us to pause and to think.  Father Jacques Hemel, the martyred 86yr old french priest who went willingly to his death caused by two young ideologically bent followers of radical Islam.  The content of the homily was simple,.. 'Where were the men in the Parish to rush and protect this priest?'  We heard about the women and the nuns who assisted at the Mass,.. So where were the 'dudes' so to speak?

It goes without saying that the Church as well as society in the last 45-50 yrs has suffered a crisis in what it means to be a man.  The Church has often attempted to present a 'user-friendly' childish or feminine Liturgy whereby the work of God is put to the side in favor of a 'feelgood' community celebration.  As with any shift, whether cultural or social, we as human beings tend to go from one extreme to the other.   Gone is the Fulton Sheen, or Bing Crosby model of priesthood, and in its place, a recycled Mr Rogers has taken over along the buzzwords 'pastoral' and 'culturally sensitive.'  The results have been disastrous.

The Church has little to no men involved in Parish activity.  Most parishes have become so feminized that the homily feels like a tickle fest of cotton candy goodness!  This is a sad reality but one that must be addressed.  Yet the Church is a microcosm of what is going on throughout the Western hemisphere.  A total crisis in manhood, and those who suffer are the women.  Countless times I have been emailed by female friends asking why dating has become a near impossibility.  It seems that with the emasculating of the Church, came an emasculating of society and thus men have forgotten virtue, sacrifice, hard work and nobility.  In its place we have men who carry satchels (purses?) are encouraged to 'cry' and have a complete lack of any sense of responsibility.

Growing up this was not my reality, and perhaps one of the reasons why I'm considered 'archaic,' 'medieval,' and downright 'misogynistic.'  My father is an Alpha male and is gifted with street smarts.  He grew up in a verrrrrry working class neighborhood in Montreal, mixed Italian and French, learned to fight, to have respect, to be respected and to walk upright.  He raised me the same way.  I have always stood up for myself and been able to call out nonsense.  I was taught to value and protect women and those weaker than me, to stand when a woman walks into a room, and to give her my seat should she have none.  To help old ladies cross the street, and to always hold a door open.  If I were to come home and complain that I got bullied, my dad would reassure me and tell me to defend myself.  I was taught to be a 'man' and/or man up!  Better to scrap it out, maybe take a beating but gain the bigger kid's respect than to hide.  These lessons never left me and still continue to be part of me.  Thus since the age of eight, I have always trained in Martial Arts.  Jesus it seems, according to Scripture is no different!  In the second chapter of St John's Gospel, He makes a whip out of His belt and kicks some ass!!!  Yet why in society and in the Church do we get this fluffball Jesus???  Soooo my question is; what the hell is happening?

In society as a whole, extreme feminism, the so-called sexual revolution along the plague of pornography have turned men into selfish little monsters.  In the Church, perhaps too many 'delicate' men joined the priesthood to hide from the world?  The men who weren't in the Church during the murder of Father Hemel are the men who weren't in the real world and instead not really knowing what it means to sacrifice.  When we clean up our own selves and start acting according to our own nature, perhaps we will reclaim our position as leader, provider and protector.  Until then, I wish to apologize to all women who seem to be at a loss in finding a suitable husband.

St Joseph,   ora pro nobis

Friday, July 29, 2016

A Traditional 'Rant.'

Okay so here goes, another one of my rants long overdue.  This is a post where I pour my heart out and appeal to all people, especially bloggers, Catholic bloggers.  Much has been written over the last few years with regards to the current pontificate under Francis that we are living through.  While I may not understand all the 'ins' and 'outs,'  I refuse to bash personally the Pope.  Why am I writing this now?  Well,.. Let's just say that although there have been calls to prayer and recollection regarding Fr Jacques Hemel's recent martyrdom at the hands of ISIS, there has been more coverage and so-called humor from 'Traditionalists' with regard to Pope Francis falling.  The following is the fruit and reflection of some conversations with my buddy Richard over at Agora X . (A french blog, and a brilliant theologian btw!)

Let me say that I love the EF Mass, and bathe in the Theology of St Thomas Aquinas.  The Church exists for the Salvation of souls and any social endeavor must flow from that and not be the starting point.  I believe the Church's doctrines should be clear, and then a pastoral approach developed from that starting point.  I can't help it, I used to work as a trainer.  (A bench press will grow your chest period.  Still if I find out that the person who started training has a torn pectoral muscle, then I will need to amend the exercise before bringing him full circle.)  That example is a pastoral application of a doctrine. That being said, I have never 'hid' my colors. 

First off I believe in questioning things, ultimately it is how one finds an answer.  I do not believe that every word that the Pope issues is infallible.  I am in line with Holy Mother Church.  The most recent document 'Amoris Laeticia' has recently sparked a controversy whereby some 45 theologians respectfully asked for some clarifications.  I would probably find myself in that line.  Where I do not find myself is inside the line of total disrespect and downright maliciousness toward the Holy Father!   Some memes on facebook recently surfaced laughing at the Holy Father for falling during Mass.   My question for the Traditionalist crowd is What prompts such anger that at a human level, that you would laugh at an old man falling?  Surely the Pope is the Pope, and perhaps you would question things, as would I!  Let me rephrase the question,.. If you love Holy Mother Church as you would your mother, would you scream from the rooftops if your mother was an alcoholic?  God will judge, not me.  I think we need to focus on the intentions of the Pope, and in that light, I believe they are good.

My friends, please understand that this agenda of hatred does no one any good.  I don't claim to know what is inside the Holy Father's mind, but as a son of the Church, knowing that it is Christ ultimately who guides the Church, I will always be respectful. Again, that does not mean that I won't question.  God has given us a brain and we are to make use of it.  I remember writing a similar critique of the leftist 'crew' who railed against Pope Benedict after he had issued Summorum Pontificum.  Please let us use our intelligence to ask questions and not come off as a bunch of hate mongers! As a Catholic, I trust the Holy Spirit and continue to pray for the Pope, as he is our papa on earth! 

We have recently been given a martyr.  Let us pray through the intercession of this priest, Fr Jacques Hemel, for unity among Catholics.  For an end to anger.  We need to be united, and the only way is through prayer and fasting!  You don't like something coming out of Rome?  Well,.. Pray and fast about it!  Time for all of us Catholics to get Holy or die tryin!'

St Thomas Aquinas, ora pro nobis!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Seeking the Good through the Intelligence.

**Blog title was changed, based on some emails**

According to an Aristotelico-Thomist format, the 'good' is designated as 'that which is in accord with the nature of the thing.'  We use words, phrases and expressions on a daily basis, but at times we forget essentially what they mean.  Vocabulary in the west has been hijacked and thus we are left with using words all the while not really knowing what they truly mean.  Our current crisis, is one of intelligence, not properly knowing how to think.  Our experience and emotions become the navigational tool instead of right reason and judgement.

Our current climate is seeing a clash of civilizations, to paraphrase Samuel Huntington.  It seems ideological standard bearers on either the so-called right or so-called left have hijacked the political and religious landscape essentially leaving no room for common sense.  The religious right, backed by fierce evangelical Christians particularly in the United States adhere to a fideistic, fundamentalist notion of what they understand as their Faith.  (Ie, Homosexual marriage is wrong because the Bible tells me so, and refuse any serious discussion as to the 'whys' of the Biblical commandment.)  Those on the left, adhere to a false social justice, and claim a subjectivist man-centered equality in marriage.  (Ie  Homosexual marriage is my right, because we are all equal.  They refuse any discussion of either authentic metaphysics or anthropology.)  The solution is the why's of certain proposals which never seem to make it to light. 

The crisis if one of anthropology.  What is a human being?  According to the Aristotelico-Thomist model which built Europe, we are a body/soul composite.  There are certain faculties proper to the soul and are immaterial.  Intelligence, and will for example. Now, we don't need the Bible or Catechism to show us that there is an inherent gap between the two.  My intelligence freely knows that 'broccoli' is 'good' for me, but my will is predisposed toward donuts.  For a human being to make a free decision, he must adhere to his intelligence, training his willpower to follow it, and thus create a habitus. (habit.)  On the other hand, when he adheres exclusively to his emotive and experiential side, negating the knowledge he may possess because he deems it to hard, he will create an addiction or a vice.  To adhere to the higher faculties of intellect and reason over sense and emotion is indeed the complex situation that we find ourselves in. Still it remains the path to true freedom, or doing what you ought. (As distinct from 'license,' doing what you want.)

Today's relativism will soon give way to an individual choosing to put orange juice in their car because it is cheaper than gas, thereby becoming a pedestrian.  An individual getting hurt, because he jumped out a ten story window claiming it was his right to 'fly.'  A quadriplegic will be suing the Olympic commitee for discrimination because he cannot compete in a downhill slolem.  Finally people attempting to marry their 'pets' as they are the only ones they 'feel' truly 'loving them' and it will be their 'right' to do so.

Into this vaccuum of false anthropology, comes ideology whereby the 'good' is ultimately what the deity decides in their particular holy book.  There is no room for questioning, or intellectual discourse, only blind obedience.  As thinking people, we need to stop labeling, and separate the person from the ideology.  A member of Isis has intelligence and can love, while radical islam cannot.  There is no such thing as an 'alcoholic,' instead there is a person who is suffering an addiction to alcohol.  We are men and women, equal but different.  We can be 'conditioned' but retain an actual capacity to discover Truth.

In closing, our current crisis is one of intelligence.  I pray that I don't come off as a right-wing nutjob(some of you accuse me of being) or a bleeding heart liberal. (Others accuse me of being.)  All I am asking for is an authentic search for what the Truth is in all the bio-ethical, moral, civil, and social issues affecting us today.  Millions of lives lost through abortion, yet we will willingly dive in front of a bulldozer to save a tree.  We are in the middle of bathroom issues with regards to so-called transgendered.  We blame pitbulls and guns, but what about trucks?  (That last attack was with a truck.)   We need to reclaim responsibility for ourselves and stop passing the buck.  I don't blame the dogs, instead I question the intellectual and moral acumen of a person with a young family buying such a dog.

Until we rediscover authentic anthropology, true metaphysics, and seek the proper 'good?'  We will remain at the mercy of Isis, and the new 'evangelization' will remain futile.

My ADD came out full force on this one.

Our Lady of Fatima, ora pro nobis!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Jiu Jitsu and Life

The last time I posted, I gave a quick 'heads up' that my next post would be about BJJ.  Well here it is.  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a martial art I've been practicing exclusively for the last 7years.  Before that I had experience in Traditional Kung Fu, some wrestling and when I was young, some Judo.  Still BJJ is different, waaaaaaay different.  So much so, that most of us who train would spell it 'H' 'U' 'M' 'I' 'L' 'I' 'T' 'Y.'

Learning to tap is definitely an acquired taste.  For most of us, our pride gets in the way and thus our fragile ego gets bruised when as a white belt, (and sometimes being experienced in another style) we get washed clean on the mat and end up in a choke or armbar.  (This happens at every belt, but at white, its especially discouraging)  A 'tap' is essentially a surrender to your opponent or training partner signifying that you are done.  To paraphrase Joe Rogan, a tap is essentially telling the other guy that you are dead, or your arm is in a position to break, and then they'll kill you.  At first, the power game becomes a way of survival at best, but then, you go up against a blue belt 50lbs lighter than you and you quickly realize that throwing your weight around is futile, when he'll want to throw your weight around first and with technique, it becomes a reality check.

Jiu Jitsu is also an investment in one's self and personal development.  Along with 'learning' to 'tap,' and getting your ego in check, you realize that the road to black belt is long and arduous.  Today, people will say that it took them 2yrs to earn a black belt in Karate, but you've been training for 7yrs and your only a purple!   You invite them to do their homework, and then they realize that up until a few years back, it was easier to find a sasquatch than to find a black belt in BJJ.  This art shows leverge and common sense.  It doesn't complicate things and then only way to progress is to train and to roll (spar).  There are no katas, forms or other ways to get promoted, you need to work, accept defeat and keep on truckin!'

God gives us many talents and many gifts.  The Martial Arts are a way to sharpen those talents and gifts putting them at the service of your community.  I've trained BJJ in other academies and the same respect and friendliness is everywhere.  Show me one BJJ/MMA/Kickboxer with a 'punk' attitude and you'll find no so great a fighter, and an even worse human being. 

I'll continue to say it, train BJJ!  You will never regret it, only if you give up.   Your confidence will improve and your humility will be realized.  See you on the mats!

Blessed Pier Georgio Frassati,........................ Ora pro nobis!